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How to Buy a Reefer, Dry Van, Flatbed, or the “Right” Trailer in 5 Steps

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Buying flatbeds trailers can be overwhelming; there are so many different factors to consider. Fortunately, if you narrow down your options by following these five simple steps, you’ll have a much easier time deciding which trailer is right for you. When this is your livelihood, buying flatbeds or buying a truck are things that should be exciting, not a pain.

Steps To Buy A Reefer, Dry Van, Flatbed, Or The "Right" Trailer

These are the five things you’ll want to consider when buying a reefer or trailer.

  1. What will you be hauling?

    Before you can even begin looking at trailers, you’ll need to have a good grasp on the items you’ll be hauling. At the very least, you need to have a solid expectation of your average load.

    Different storage units are designed for different storage needs. For example, you might not need a high-tech cooling unit if you’re bringing salted beef across the country. But if you’re going to be driving perishables over long distances, you’ll need that cooler to keep your goods from spoiling.

    If you choose the wrong trailer, you’ll end up with features you don’t need. These features increase the operating and maintenance costs of the trailer. Simply put, incorrect specifications are a waste of your money. Get a handle on the exact specifications you need for your product, and don’t spring for anything more expensive than that.

    Here are some questions you can ask to narrow down your specifics:

    • Are the goods perishable? Do they need to be kept refrigerated?
    • How heavy is the load?
    • Are you transporting any hazardous materials?
    • How tall does the trailer need to be? How tall would you like it to be?
    • Does the trailer need to be closed?

    When you talk to your dealer, they should be able to assess your needs and discuss their different options in-depth. You just need to know what you’re hauling, what that means for your trip, and what your budget is.

  2. Does the dealer seem knowledgeable?

    Chances are, you’ll be looking to the dealer for a recommendation on the best way of hauling your cargo. You want to make sure that the dealer understands what they’re selling. Ask yourself these questions when negotiating:

    • Does the dealership offer trained sales representatives who understand everything about the equipment?
    • Does your dealer have a good understanding of your cargo load and the correct specifications to do the job?
    • Is your dealer looking out for your best interests?
    • Does your dealer want to work with you to fit your bottom line, or are they just trying to fill their own pocket?
  3. If you have a bad feeling about a dealer, you might want to shop around. This is too big and too specific a purchase to leave to chance. Knowledgeable sales reps will help you through the purchase process, which will save time, and get you the transport you need.

  4. Are you keeping an open mind?

    This one is more of an internal check than an external check. When you go to a dealership, you should be willing to be flexible on everything from your specifications to your price. It’s important to have a firm idea of what will get the job done, but it’s equally important to listen to the dealer’s expertise.

    You should be able to establish some level of trust with the dealer. This person is an expert who should be here to help you get what you need. Be open with your dealer. If there’s a spec you have in mind, mention it and explain why you wanted it. A good dealer will agree or disagree, and they can also make further recommendations based on the information you’ve given.

  5. A trailer is an investment, so act like it

    This isn’t a quick grocery store excursion where you can pick the first thing you see and be done with it. Don’t get a trailer for the sake of getting a trailer. Instead, focus on the value of the trailer itself.

    Some questions you might want to ask yourself about the trailer’s value are:

    • Has it been inspected? How recently?
    • How worn are the tires? Do they need changing?
    • Does the reefer unit need to be serviced?
    • Does the trailer require any other kind of service?

    Upon purchase, your new trailer should be ready to hit the road without you needing to fork out for extra costs. You should also be sure that your sales representative will help you with the required paperwork. Dealerships are familiar with the different legal paperwork that needs to be filed, and they’ll often handle the bulk of this themselves — you’ll just need to sign.

    The higher the value of the trailer, the more money you’ll save on out-of-pocket costs. You’ll also get better gas mileage and handling and usually extra features.

  6. How are you paying?

    If you’re blessed enough to have the cash on hand, you’re more than welcome to pay for your trailer with cash. Some dealerships accept checks, which you could use if you have the money available in the bank. For most people though, there will need to be a financing option.

    Even if you don’t plan to finance the trailer, it’s helpful to complete the credit application just in case. There are advantages to both out-of-pocket payment and financing. If you borrow from the bank, and your contract has a low-interest rate and an ideal monthly payment, you might lower your trailer costs upfront. That said, being the owner of a trailer comes with benefits as well. Your sales rep will help you understand your options and decide what’s best for your circumstances. In the end, it’s whatever decision is financially sound for you.

    For more information, call Truck Loan Center at 1-866-230-0094 or contact us here.

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